The Australian diplomat whose account of a 2016 conversation with embattled Trump campaign staffer George Papadopoulos prompted the FBI to formally open its Russia collusion probe has a decade-long, multi-million dollar connection to the Clinton Foundation.
The Hill reported that Alexander Downer — who at the time served as Australia’s foreign minister — helped launch a $25 million partnership between Australia and The Clinton Foundation to help fight AIDS back in 2006.
Australia’s foreign minister Alexander Downer (L) speaks as his Mexican counterpart Luis Ernesto Derbez listens during a joint news conference at the foreign ministry in Mexico City January 6, 2005. The ministers announced that a committee of experts will be set up to research the possibility of a free trade agreement between the two countries. REUTERS/Andrew Winning
Not only was the initiative one of the single, largest charitable endeavors undertaken in The Clinton Foundation’s 21 year history — Australia was one of only four countries to pledge $25 million to The Clinton Foundation — but Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan now says that the FBI failed to alert Congress of Downer’s connection to the Clintons.
Congressman Jim Jordan says this new revelation shoots down claims made by House Intelligence ranking member Adam Schiff. He added the news further necessitates Attorney General Jeff Sessions to appoint a second special counsel to probe the FBI and Justice Department’s handling of the initial counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign.
“Schiff made a big point of this in his memo and comments he’s made, where he said ‘the dossier wasn’t the most important thing they were investigating, and the catalyst for the Russian investigation was this Papadopoulos meeting,” the Ohio Republican told The Daily Caller. “Now we’ve learned, the thing they kept hanging their hat on was the Papadopoulos meeting with Ambassador Downer, and it turns out that Mr. Downer now had ties to the Clintons as well.”
“He arranged $25 million in contributions to The Clinton Foundation, and I believe that Downer arranged the meeting with Papadopoulos. It wasn’t just, ‘oh shazam, we’re in the same bar and this guy is just shooting his mouth off.’ It wasn’t a coincidence.”
Additionally, Jordan noted that the Downer news mirrors the same “pattern” of revelations pertaining to Fusion GPS’ infamous Trump dossier, compiled by ex-British spy Christopher Steele.
Republican US Representative from Ohio Jim Jordan questions former US Secretary of State and Democratic Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton as she testifies before the House Select Committee on Benghazi on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, October 22, 2015 (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Most importantly, Jordan suggested that the new information raises questions about what exactly the Obama White House knew about the FBI’s investigation and when they knew it.
“We learned in July that the FBI had the dossier. And then we subsequently learned it wasn’t just the FBI who had the dossier, it was also the Justice Department, mainly Bruce Ohr. So it’s, like wait. The obvious question is now did the White House have it? Did Obama know? We don’t know the answer to that question. But the pattern suggests that those 10 questions that Devin [Nunes] sent to those 24 people a couple of weeks ago, and he got those first responses back on Friday, those 10 questions on the dossier are so important.” (RELATED: Nunes Presses Obama Officials On Steel Dossier)
Jordan also told TheDC that Sessions should appoint “someone outside the swamp” to serve as the second special counsel.
“Just pick someone from Oklahoma, Iowa, somewhere from the middle of the country. A well-respected, retired federal judge or some prosecutor who’s well respected to assemble a team and let them do it. I don’t see any other remedy. Mueller can’t expand his probe into this because he would be compromised,” he added. “It seems to me the only remedy is a second special counsel and then if you pick the right person there’s a chance at the conclusion there can be some type of closure and acceptance on the part of the American people. They want people held accountable”
Jordan and other Republican lawmakers have previously called for a second special counsel to investigate FISA court abuses used to obtain warrants for members of the Trump campaign. (RELATED: Jordan Demands Sessions Appoint Second Special Counsel)
“Remember this too,” he said during a Fox News interview last week. “Comey is gone. McCabe has left the FBI. Rybicki has left the FBI, former chief of staff. Jim Baker, general counsel at the FBI, has been demoted and reassigned. Lisa Page, has been demoted and reassigned Peter Strzok, former deputy head of counterintelligence, has been demoted and reassigned.”
“But we’re supposed to believe those top people at the FBI can investigate themselves?”
“It can’t work,” Jordan added. “So, appoint the second special counsel, Mr. Attorney General, and let’s get on with this and get answers to the American people.”
WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 20: Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton (L) and former President Bill Clinton arrive on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. In today’s inauguration ceremony Donald J. Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Downer — now Australia’s ambassador to the United Kingdom — originally reached out to the FBI in July 2016, two months after his meeting with Papadopoulos, when WikiLeaks released hacked emails obtained from the Democratic National Committee. (RELATED: Trump’s Aide’s Drunken Conversation Sparked Russia Probe)
The FBI formally opened its counterintelligence investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign in Russia shortly after Downer contacted the bureau.